Major festivals in Italy and public holidays (so you'll know when things will be closed)
Maybe it's a solemn procession in honor of the the town's patron saint, or a reenactment of a historical event.
It could be a poetry festival, a music festival, or a communal feast in the streets to celebrate some local culinary specialty.
Mayhaps Carnevale has rolled around, or there's a meeting of the Madonnas from neighboring villages.
It could be that time of year the town runs a traditional bareback horse race, the day they the uncork the new wine, the local bishop blesses Fiats or flocks of sheep.
It might be a madcap race up the mountain carrying giant floats, the annual display of the cathedral's holy relic, or a chess game on the piazza played with real people.
And sometimes it's simply the second Tuesday in May once again and on that day everyone puts on traditional costumes and dances traditional dances while the fountains flow with wine.
If you happen across town on a festival day—any festival day—ditch your plans and your itinerary and join in the fun.
(And yes, the examples above are all from real festivals—some famous, some obscure—I have stumbled across at some point in Italy.)
Italian holidays when everything closes
Most Italian's Christmas holidays last from December 24 though January 6.Most offices and shops in Italy are closed on these public holidays:
- January 1 (New Year’s Day)
- January 6 (Epiphany)
- Easter Sunday (called Pasqua)
- Easter Monday (called Pasquetta)
- April 25 (Liberation Day)
- May 1 (Labor Day)
- August 15 (Assumption of the Virgin—much of Italy takes its summer vacation Aug 15–30)
- November 1 (All Saints’ Day)
- December 8 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception)
- December 25 (Christmas Day)
- December 26 (Santo Stefano—more places are closed on this day than on Christmas)
Most of town shuts down on the feast day for its patron saints (though there's also usually an excellent procession and public festival happening). Here are the dates (and saints) for major cities:
- Rome, June 29 (San Pietro e Paolo/Sts. Peter and Paul)
- Venice, April 25 (San Marco/St. Mark)
- Florence, Genoa, and Turin, June 24 (San Giovanni Battista/St. John the Baptist)
- Milan, December 7 (St. Ambrose/Sant'Ambrogio)
- Palermo, July 15 (St. Rosalia/Santa Rosalia)
- Naples, September 19 (St. Gennaro/San Gennaro)
- Bari, December 6 (San Nicola/St. Nicholas—Santa Claus!)
- Bologna, October 4 (San Petronio/St. Petronio)
- Trieste, November 3 (San Giusto/St. Just)
- Cagliari, October 30 (San Saturnino/St. Saturnino)